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Bukhari slams US double standards on terrorism

The Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, hit out angrily at the United States on 20 October for insisting on a military solution in Afghanistan while harping on negotiations to settle the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan. Bukhari also pleaded with the Organisation of Islamic Conference to chalk out a "solid strategy" for liberating Palestine and Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque and to protect Muslims from American "aggression". The imam, who has emerged as the most vocal Indian Muslim critic of America's war in Afghanistan aimed at ousting the Taleban regime and nabbing terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden, said Washington was pursuing a dual policy. He pointed to comments by Secretary of State Colin Powell in the subcontinent this week when he called on India and Pakistan to go for a negotiated settlement of their 50-year row over Kashmir. But in the case of Afghanistan, US leaders have ruled out any dialogue with the Taleban and insisted on continuing their military onslaught. "I ask Powell why the war was thrust on the Taleban when they were ready for negotiations," said Bukhari. "Why are we [Indians] being asked to go for negotiations on Kashmir? America will have to give its answer to the Muslim world one day." He also criticised the Indian government for going out of its way to offer military logistic support to the US once the latter had announced its decision to take on the Taleban. "It is a matter of great concern that in India such elements are in power that do not bother for the independence, sovereignty and integrity of the country," he said. "The Indian leadership became restless when the US got Pakistan's cooperation for attacking Afghanistan. It offered unconditionally its bases to America. But America turned down all the offers." Bukhari, whose family has traditionally managed the mammoth shrine, India's largest mosque, accused the US and Britain of hypocrisy, saying their concern for the Palestinians was not genuine and only aimed at covering up the "crime" of attacking Afghanistan.

He said both countries had made similar pro-Palestinian noises during the Gulf war too. "Almost a decade has passed since the Gulf war. America, during this period, never talked about the liberation of Palestine and did not utter even a single word to condemn the aggression of Israel. Now [US President] George W Bush and [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair are remembering Palestine. "They are not serious in solving the Palestine issue because they know if that happens there will be none in the Middle East to buy their weapons. In my opinion, if terrorism is wiped out from the world, the economic condition of the US, Britain, France and other arms-manufacturing countries will be worse."

Bukhari alleged that more than 1,000 civilians had died in Afghanistan in the US-led military attacks, and reiterated that the US had no evidence to show that Laden had masterminded the terrorist attacks on New York and Arlington. "The Muslims of the world still want to know the crime of Osama bin Laden. What wrong has he committed? If there is any proof against him, why is it not presented to the world? "I say this is a challenge to the Muslim world. However, I am happy to see that Muslims have proved their awareness by holding huge demonstrations against the war. "I believe that by the grace of Allah, the truth will ultimately prevail." (Indo-Asian News Service)

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